Richard on Balloon

My name is Richard and I am currently studying a BSc Joint Honors in International Development and Economics, at The University of Northampton.

“In 2010 the University of Northampton set a strategic goal to be Britain’s leading university for social enterprise by 2015. In 2013 (two full years ahead of schedule) Ashoka U, the world’s leading network of social entrepreneurs awarded the University of Northampton the international accolade of ‘Changemaker Campus’, in recognition of their commitment to social enterprise and the excellence of the opportunities this commitment gave to its students.”

After my first year of studying at the University of Northampton, I got involved with social entrepreneurship programs and projects and developed a keen interest. I managed to win a volunteer placement with Balloon Kenya, which took me to Nakuru, Kenya for 6 weeks. As featured in the Financial Times, Guardian and Virgin, Balloon Kenya links you with a local community organisation called Hope and Vision Youth SACCO. As volunteers we were partnered up with local Kenyan entrepreneurs, who either had an existing business or start up. We worked in teams to help these entrepreneurs grow, develop and achieve success in their businesses over the long term within their local markets. Not only was this experience empowering and educational but provided me with key practical experience in consulting and product testing. I found these experiences both enjoyable and useful.

As I will be graduating in 2016, Balloon Kenya allowed me to enhance my working experience as well as improve my level of employability which will hopefully allow me to secure a creditable graduate job. Furthermore, Balloon Kenya allowed me to engage with other cultures and societies. The programme allowed me to meet likeminded young ambitious people from around the world, who were willing to transfer skills and knowledge amongst each other by sharing ideas and creating business.



Written by Richard Jena, Balloon Fellow 2014 – June